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Mammalian retromer is an adaptable scaffold for cargo sorting from endosomes

By Amy K Kendall, Boyang Xie, Peng Xu, Jue Wang, Rodger Burcham, Meredith N. Frazier, Elad Binshtein, Hui Wei, Todd R. Graham, Terunaga Nakagawa, Lauren Parker Jackson

Posted 15 May 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/639575 (published DOI: 10.1016/j.str.2020.01.009)

In metazoans, retromer (VPS26/VPS35/VPS29) associates with sorting nexin (SNX) proteins to form coats on endosomal tubules and sort cargo proteins to the trans-Golgi network (TGN) or plasma membrane. This core complex is highly conserved from yeast to humans, but molecular mechanisms of metazoan retromer assembly remain undefined. Here we combine single particle cryo-electron microscopy with biophysical methods to uncover multiple oligomer structures formed by mammalian retromer. Two-dimensional class averages in ice reveal the retromer heterotrimer; dimers of trimers; tetramers of trimers; and flat chains. These species are further supported by biophysical studies in solution. We provide cryo-EM reconstructions of all species, including pseudo-atomic resolution detail for key sub-structures. Multi-body refinement demonstrates how retromer heterotrimers and dimers adopt a range of conformations. Our structures identify a flexible yet highly conserved electrostatic interface in dimers formed by interactions between VPS35 subunits. We generate a structure-based mutant to disrupt this key interface in vitro and introduce equivalent mutations into S. cerevisiae to demonstrate the mutant exhibits a cargo sorting defect. Together, structures and complementary functional data in budding yeast imply a conserved assembly interface across eukaryotes. These data further suggest mammalian retromer acts as an adaptable and plastic scaffold that accommodates interactions with different SNXs to sort multiple cargoes from endosomes their final destinations.

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